By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 3/1/2019
Hello from St. Paul,
Plans to renovate the Hastings City Hall building took a needed step forward on Wednesday as a bill I’m chief-authoring that would provide funding for the project was heard in the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee.
I thought the hearing went very well. Many of the members on the committee toured the facility back in 2017 when I invited them to Hastings to learn more about it, so they didn’t necessarily receive new information, but rather renewed information with some updates.
I was joined at the capital investment committee presentation by Hastings City Planner Justin Fortney and Interim Hastings City Administrator and Administrative Services Director Julie Flaten, and they both did an outstanding job.
The bill would provide $2 million in bonding proceeds to repair masonry, replace dome cupola roofs and decorative metal, make HVAC improvements and work on the foundation, among other needs. If approved, a $2.6 million investment from outside sources – such as the City of Hastings – would be needed in order to secure the state’s bonding proceeds.
There seems to be legitimate interest from the committee in asset preservation. Having the second oldest courthouse in the State of Minnesota and having regional significance works in our favor.
So what happens next? I’m not aware of any hearings being scheduled in the Minnesota Senate on the Hastings City Hall bill, and the bill didn’t receive a hearing last session either, which means I’ll be pushing hard for its inclusion in the House’s capital investment plan – whenever that’s unveiled.
We probably won’t know if we’ll have a bonding bill this year, or if the Hastings project is included in it, until the final days of session. Now its wait time for everyone but me, as I’ll continue working behind the scenes and reminding the chairwoman and other members of the committee how important it is to renovate the Hastings City Hall building.
DEMOCRATS VOTE TO VOID BOAT INSURANCE POLICIES FOR HALF A MILLION MINNESOTANS
Do you have boat insurance? If a bill approved in the Minnesota House Thursday becomes law, it could be worthless by the time the fishing opener rolls around.
Thursday evening House Democrats voted to pass HF476, a bill aimed at eliminating family exclusions in watercraft and personal umbrella liability insurance policies. As written, the bill would render any policies that include family exclusions “void.” Unlike other insurance-related bills that have enactment dates well into the future to allow changes to be made during the next policy renewal, HF476 would be effective “the day following final enactment and applies to policies in effect on or after that date” which means your policy could be void before your insurer has an opportunity to notify you and rewrite a new policy.
During the debate on the House floor, I offered a number of amendments that would have solved this and other problems, but they were all voted down by the majority party.
Having an insurance background, I can tell you with certainty that this bill would instantly void hundreds of thousands of insurance policies and throw Minnesota boat owners into chaos. I’m sure that sounds like another exaggerated political statement, but we actually had the conversation with non-partisan researchers who told us this is exactly what will happen if this bill becomes law.
Worse, if your boat is covered under a personal umbrella policy, the entire umbrella policy could be void because of the way the bill was written.
While I appreciate what this bill was trying to accomplish it would be a disaster if it was signed into law in its current form. There’s simply no reason to void policies the day after the bill is signed—it’s unnecessary and creates a mess for both policyholders and insurers who would need to draft and issue hundreds of thousands of new policies.
One of my amendments would have moved the enactment date to January 2020 and called for the Commerce Commissioner to establish a Policy Exclusion Advisory Group to review these issues and report back by November of this year. Unfortunately, there was more interest in getting the current bill passed than in getting it right.
According the DNR, there were 818,000 boats in Minnesota as of 2016. Boats.com estimates that 40% of boats are uninsured, meaning that approximately 400,000-500,000 Minnesotans have insurance policies that could be rendered void under the bill.
WHAT DID YOU READ DURING “I LOVE TO READ MONTH?”
Did you know February was “I Love to Read” month? I was fortunate to be able to visit a number of area classrooms over the past couple of weeks, which is truly one of the most enjoyable parts of being your state representative. Not only was I able to read to these kids, but I was able to discuss with them the importance of reading at all ages and learn about the types of books they enjoy.
I started off in Hastings at Kennedy Elementary, visiting 3rd grade students from Mrs. Kirk’s classroom.
I read the book “Dream Big, A True Story of Courage and Determination” to these youngsters, a true story about a teenager who not only dreamed of participating in and finishing the Boston Marathon, but eventually directed the annual event for thirty years.
I was also invited to read to 5th graders at Newport Elementary School.
As well as 5th graders at Pine Hill Elementary School in Cottage Grove.
To each of these groups, I read a chapter from my favorite book from when I was their age, The Mystery of the Witches Bridge by Barbee Oliver Carleton. When we were done I gave the book to them so they could finish reading it if they were interested. The book was written in 1967 and I had to find used copies online. This is the first chapter book I remember reading and I couldn’t wait to go to the local library to check out another mystery to read. My hope is at least one student falls in love with reading because of The Mystery of the Witches Bridge.
Minnesota School Bus Drivers Appreciation Day also took place this week. I met these drivers at 6:15 AM before they went out on their Hastings routes to thank them for getting our kids to and from school safely.
This has been a very challenging month due to weather but drivers, aides, dispatchers and mechanics have done a great job. Their concerns include drivers putting safety at risk by ignoring stop arms and loss of pay due to weather related school cancellations.
Have a great weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155